Despite an extended shutdown of Mercury Marine’s Suzhou, China engine assembly plant, Brunswick Corp has managed to get through the early stages of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic without any disruption to its supply chain or its ability to deliver product.

“Obviously, our top priority is our employee safety and health, and we are following the mandates of the World Health Organization, as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Brunswick’s vice president of communication and public affairs Kevin Grodzki told IBI. “We’ve imposed restrictions on travel to and from level one and level two countries. I think it’s important to recognise the fact that we don’t have any reports of any of our employees or any of their contacts that have been affected by this at this point. So, we’re not aware of any Brunswick personnel having contracted, or been exposed to the coronavirus. And again, one of the reasons why we’re putting these travel restrictions in place is to keep it that way.”

Grodzki said the Suzhou facility, which produces 40hp, 50hp and 60hp outboards, was closed for an extra week when the Chinese government extended the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to contain the outbreak, but that supply pipelines and global inventory levels are healthy.

“We’ve been in touch with all of our suppliers and at this point in time we don’t have any red flags in terms of any potential disruptions in our operations due to critical part shortages or anything like that,” he said.

The Suzhou operations have been back online for about 10 days, according to Grodzki.

“We worked very, very closely with the authorities in China to restart our operation. This is a very, very prescriptive operation that the Chinese government mandates in terms of policy and part practices that they have in terms of how a facility is to be restarted. There are certain restrictions, certain rules about allowing employees to come back.”

As a publicly traded, global concern, Brunswick – and each of its individual facilities – has business continuity plans in place that cover everything from a natural disaster to a pandemic. The challenge with the coronavirus, Grodzki said, is because of its rapid spread around the globe.

“I think it’s probably best accurately said that we have had solid contingency actions in terms of business continuity plans that we’ve adapted to the speed and breadth of this program. And given the fact that we’re fairly well-practiced in this area, we do a lot of scenario planning and a lot of situational type of planning within our business. With that kind of practice in those kinds of activities, we were pretty quick to be able to adapt a lot of the business continuity plans that we had to this situation.”

Brunswick has teams in place at the corporate and facility levels that are in daily communication to monitor the situation which will stay in place until the risk diminishes.

“This is something that we practice and it’s playing out the way we would have expected at this stage. There’s nothing that we haven’t anticipated at this stage and to the extent that something comes up, we have the surveillance out there working closely with the regional, as well as the global health organisations, to get a heads up on that just as quickly as it happens. And I’d like to think that we have the agility to be able to marshal our resources and take good care of our people and take care of our business along the way,” Grodzki said.